New York – Yesterday the Israeli government sent armed and mounted riot troops to evacuate the 30 families living in Amona, near the town of Ofra in Judea, and destroy their homes. This was allegedly done in compliance with the moribund so-called “road-map” which former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk this week called “dead.” Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly rejected an offer from settler leader Hanan Porat under which the nine structures would be moved peaceably to Ofra in a week or destroyed by the settlers themselves.
ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “Why does the Israeli government feel a need to fulfill this minor aspect of the “Road Map” while the Palestinians have done nothing to fulfill major aspects of the “Road Map” such as stopping terror, arresting terrorists, dismantling terror groups and ending incitement. We also don’t understand why Israel applies a double standard to Jewish houses that were built without full government approval and the tens of thousands of illegal Palestinian homes built in eastern Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria without government approval, especially those built along highways which explicitly violates the Oslo agreements.”
Huge numbers of Israeli riot police came to the town of Amona and physically attacked the teenage and adult protesters there. Many witnesses stated that the attacks, which included beatings through the use of horses, kickings, and batons, were largely unprovoked. Israeli President Katzav said, “all red lines were crossed, it was totally unnecessary.” Member of Knesset Zevulun Orlev said, “Most of the protesters exhibited only passive resistance; and despite this, the police used strong violence, that led to the injury of 200 people.”
Yesha Council leader Pinchas Wallerstein said, “There is no doubt that the police received instructions to hit us without provocation. Whoever was in the houses was hit, even as they just sat on the floor arm-in-arm. The police came with their clubs to break our bones.” Rabbi Shraga Oraji of Kiryat Arba said, “We agreed beforehand that none of us would raise a hand to the police, we would simply sit in our places but when the Israeli police burst in, they immediately began hitting us.”
Three Members of Kesset (MK’s) who were in Amona were also beaten up. MK Aryeh Eldad had his arm broken; MK Effi Eitam received a blow to the head and was hospitalized; MK Benny Elon was also injured. MK Eldad reported that, after the decision was made to demolish the buildings, he decided he would “go to Amona together with MK Elon and MK Eitam, and requested that Army and police delay the demolition by a few hours,” so that they could “negotiate to get hundreds of people out of the way.” MK Eitam added, “we wanted to do what we did in Gush Katif — to add as responsible mediators between the armed forces and the civilians who were present so as to avert any unnecessary violence.” However, MK Elon reported, the IDF and police refused to listen, and instead immediately dispatched troops and police to move in on the hundreds of people in Amona.
Due to this violence Israeli President Moshe Katzav, Labor MK Yuli Tamir, the National Union Party, Likud and even the left-wing civil-rights group B’Tselem all called for a formal government investigation. B’Tselem said that illegal orders may have been handed down, that individual policemen must be investigated for acting with violence towards protestors who did not actively resist.
The extremist left-wing group Peace-Now condemned the demand for an inquiry as “a miserable, unnecessary mistake.”
The following is a sample of public testimony by Israelis who were brutally attacked (Arutz-7). Israeli TV showed the Israeli police beating young teenagers on the head who offered no resistance.
- Avraham Fishman — “I was sitting in one of the houses with 40 others
our plan was to sit in line and be dragged out
The police came and said, ‘Either you leave on your own or we’ll beat you and they did
I was hit by 3 policemen. None of us were cursing or saying anything
we were just sitting.”
- Rivka K. — “We were a bunch of girls
trying to be a passive force against the police
with no warning, the police just rushed us, crushed us, hit us with their clubs.”
- Shlomit T. — “I was just standing with the other girls
Our goal was to use passive resistance
The police started right away with the clubs
I was hit on my face and leg.”
- Elazar K. — “We were planning to stand in a line and show passive resistance The police came, with their horses, like a long powerful wave Without talking to us they charged toward us with full force, hitting us also with their clubs.”
Commenting on this Amona situation, injured MK Aryeh Eldad said, ” Ohlmert is committing this atrocity because he feels uprooting the settlers will help him in the elections.” Injured Mk Effie Eitam said, “For 30 years I fought on the battlefield and I never believed I would be wounded by a Jewish policeman.” Labor MK Yuli Tamir said, “The mission was conducted poorly and was a failure.” Yesha Council Head Benji Lieberman said, “the security forces were preparing to use violence long before Wednesday morning the police came with orders from on high to break heads.” Eitam added, “they came with the order to spill our blood.” MK Benny Elon accused Ohlmert of a “cynical political maneuver.”
Klein said, “The ZOA is appalled and distressed at the violent scenes in Amona, and at the Israeli government decision to demolish Jewish homes there, especially at this time, just days after Hamas’ election victory, and in this excessively violent and confrontational way.
“We cannot understand that at a time when Israel is facing huge problems — the conversion of Gaza into an enhanced terrorist stronghold, an astronomical rise in the smuggling of offensive weaponry by terrorists into Gaza, continuing rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns — the Israeli government instead of using force against Palestinian terrorists, uses force against Israeli civilians. The Israeli government uses its artillery to hit empty fields against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza while directly attacking Zionist Jews, calling them ‘Jewish Hamas’.”
“How dare that Acting Prime Minister Ohlmert’s aides use this outrageous and phony term. Hamas wants to murder every Jew and destroy Israel and has succeeded in murdering hundreds of Jews. The Jews of Amona are trying to salvage Jewish homes and Jewish land and haven’t killed anybody. This comparison of Jews to Hamas is odious. We urge Prime Minister Ohlmert to immediately publicly apologize for his aides using this horrific term of ‘Jewish Hamas’. Using this term demonizes these Jews in the same way that Arab anti-Semites demonize all Jews, especially Israeli Jews. The Arab demonization makes it easier for Arabs to accept harming and murdering Jews. This Jewish demonization of fellow Jews makes it easier for the world to accept harming these Jews in the territories and in fact, unintentionally taints all Jews.
“No worse timing could be imagined to send Palestinians the message that extremism and terrorism leads Israel to demolish Jewish homes and evict their residents. It is sending the worst possible message of appeasement and retreat. We saw how the Gaza/northern Samaria retreat gave the terrorists a huge boost of popularity among Palestinians. This latest confrontation and demolitions in Amona and the violence between Jews will send the same message and produce the same result.
“Just at a time when the world has been compelled by Hamas’ election victory to face the fact that a genocidal terrorist movement has been overwhelmingly endorsed by the Palestinians, the Israeli government has succeeded in taking Hamas and its crimes off page one and instead made violence among Jews the main story. This is a propaganda triumph for Palestinian terrorists.
“If unauthorized home construction is to be properly confronted by the Israeli government, it should apply the law equally and without thought of political considerations. The fact that the Israeli government goes out of its way to have a violent confrontation with settlers and to demolish their unauthorized homes at this time, just weeks ahead of Israeli elections, smacks of political considerations, not applying the rule of law. If the issue was applying the rule of law appropriately across the board, the government would also be acting to remove the literally thousands of unauthorized Arab homes that have been built in and around Jerusalem and elsewhere in Judea and Samaria.
“The ZOA supports the call issued by several Israeli political parties urging the Israeli government to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate how the police and protesters conducted themselves and draw conclusions so that this terrible event is never repeated.”